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The best classical summer concerts you can see this summer

When it comes to the summer sun, classical music is a delicate flower. Between the seasons it is common for orchestras, chamber music ensembles, conductors and soloists to seek the shade provided by an extensive network of barns, sheds, tents and pavilions. If you’re a classical fan, you’re probably also a die-hard festival-goer, and if you’re new to the game (or just classically curious), Very Serious Music’s picnic-first approach can help level the playing field . into something that looks more like a lawn. What follows is a selection of summer festivals, ranked by proximity to the District of Columbia. Stay hydrated and happy listening!

As almost every other opera company is wrapping up this season, summer is showtime for Wolf Trap Opera, which divides its summer offerings between the acoustically cozy indoor venue The Barns and the larger open-air setting of the Filene Center. Conductor Christine Brandes leads director Dan Rigazzi’s “Così fan tutte” (June 21-29) to open the season. In addition to leading an exclusive masterclass (July 10), mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton will also give a Barns recital with pianist Joseph Li (July 14). The National Symphony Orchestra accompanies a main stage production of Puccini’s “La Boheme” (July 19) with soprano Amanda Batista as Mimi and tenor Eric Taylor as Rodolfo. Composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning opera “Silent Night” closes the season at the Barns (Aug. 9-17). The summer season will also feature three episodes of the intimate, artist-curated Salon Series (June 23, 28 and July 1), as well as the return of WTO’s ever-popular Aria Jukebox, where audience members choose what Filene Artists sing (July 7) . ). June 21-Aug. 17 at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna. wolftrap.org

National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap

In addition to performances with Wolf Trap Opera (see: “La Boheme” on July 19), the NSO has a busy summer program with high-profile guests and quiet movie evenings in the Filene Center. This summer’s guest list includes Phish frontman Trey Anastasio (June 25); rapper Nas celebrates the 30th anniversary of his seminal album “Illmatic” (July 21); and Grammy-winning genre-fluid pop iconoclast Beck who gives favorites from his catalog an orchestral flare (July 27). Film buffs who are also classic fans can enjoy the NSO’s live soundtracks for “Star Wars: A New Hope” (July 13), “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” (July 24) and “Ghostbusters” (July 26). ). And for some serious musical fireworks, the Cathedral Choral Society joins conductor Ruth Reinhardt and the NSO for a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth, on a program that also includes Sphinx Concerto Competition winner Njioma Grevious performing Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto (12 July). June 25 – July 27, at Wolf Trap, 1515 Trap Rd., Vienna. wolftrap.org

Just north of New York City in Katonah, the venerable summer classical music station is packed with highlights and ready for your picnic blankets. A free daylong Soundscapes event (June 9) opens the season, as does the Caramoor grounds – home to sound art by Stephan Moore, Senem Pirler, Liz Phillips, Taylor Deupree, Annea Lockwood, Bob Bielecki and Ranjit Bhatnagar. Also featured will be Majel Connery’s song “Rivers Are Our Brothers,” an electronic song cycle about ecological responsibility; a theremin workshop with Rob Schwimmer; and the installation ‘Safe Space’ by composer Darian Donovan Thomas. Regular season concerts include performances by Abeo Quartet (June 27), Roomful of Teeth (June 28), The Knights with Aaron Diehl (June 30), the Sphinx Virtuosi (July 7), Owls (July 11), Xian Zhang leads the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and guitarist Miloš (July 14), Sandbox Percussion’s world premiere of Douglas J. Cuomo’s “The Jump Up!” (July 21), “classically trained garage band” Time for Three (July 26), Silkroad head Rhiannon Giddens (August 3) and more. Plus: Dance returns to Caramoor with a presentation of Purcell’s “The Fairy Queen” (July 20) and a performance by Mark Morris Dance Company (August 1). June 9-Aug. 16 in Caramoor, Katonah, New York. caramoor.org

The oldest ongoing summer chamber music festival returns to the woods in Hurley, NY, with classical concerts on Sundays in the handcrafted concert barn. This summer’s Chamber Music Festival kicks off with the Manhattan Chamber Players and pianist David Fung (June 30) and continues into September with performances by the Escher String Quartet (July 7), the Four Nations Ensemble (July 13), Windsync with composer Viet Cuong (July 13 and 14), Miró Quartet (July 21), Chelsea Guo (August 4), Margaret Leng Tan (August 24) and more. June 15-Sept. 14 at Maverick Concerts, Hurley, NY maverickconcerts.org

Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood

Maestro Andris Nelsons opens the BSO season on the old summer campus with a full Beethoven program headlined by violinist Hilary Hahn performing the Violin Concerto (July 5) and a full Strauss program with soprano and Kennedy Center honoree Renée Fleming (July 7) . The Koussevitzky Music Shed will also feature performances by violinist Augustin Hadelich (July 14), Christine Goerke (July 20), Emanuel Ax (July 21), Jean-Yves Thibeaudet (July 27), Kirill Gerstein (August 4 and 9), Midori (August 16) and Yo-Yo Ma (August 18). Artists giving recitals at Seiji Ozawa Hall this summer include Yuja Wang (July 17); a special trio performance by Kirill Gerstein, Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis (July 31); Paul Lewis (July 24); Danish String Quartet (1 August); and more. New concertmaster Nathan Cole will also make his first appearances with the BSO in Tanglewood this summer. Book a few days so you can enjoy masterclasses, open rehearsals, composer readings and exceptional views of the Berkshires in the afternoon. July 5-Aug. 25 in Tanglewood, Lenox, MA. bso.org/tanglewood

Loud weekend at Mass MoCA

For lovers of new music and the avant-garde end of the classical spectrum, the remote mill town of North Adams – and its massive contemporary arts center Mass MoCA – plays host to this reliably ear-splitting festival, presented by New York experimental mainstays Bang on a City. Can. This summer’s Loud Weekend (August 1-3) includes performances by Duet Behavior (featuring Meredith Monk and percussionist John Hollenbeck); cellist Maya Beiser’s version of Terry Riley’s minimalist monument “In C”; a new work “for 1-bit electronics and harpsichord” by Tristan Perich; works by Huang Ruo, Marcos Balter, Mathew Rosenblum, Annika Socolofsky, Jeffery Brooks and many, many more. August 1-3 at Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts. massamoca.org

A strong summer season awaits at the opera festival in Cooperstown, NY, now directed by Robert Ainsley, former director of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at Washington National Opera and the American Opera Initiative. In addition to offering artist talks, pre-show concerts and festival dinners, Glimmerglass will present new productions of “The Pirates of Penzance,” directed and choreographed by Seán Curran; a “Pagliacci” that goes from picnic to stage at Brenna Corner; Francesco Cavalli’s “La Calisto” directed by Mo Zhao and conducted by Ainsley; and Kevin Puts’ “Elizabeth Cree,” directed by Alison Moritz and starring 2024 Glimmerglass artist-in-residence Tara Erraught (who will also appear in concert with Glimmerglass Young Artists on August 15). Don’t be afraid to bring the kids; there’s plenty of lawn plus a family-friendly performance of ‘Rumpelstiltskin and the Unlovable Children’ by Jens Ibsen and Cecelia Raker. July 22-Aug. 20 at Glimmerglass Festival, Cooperstown, NY glimmerglass.org

Incoming music director of the Washington National Opera, Robert Spano, is also director of the Aspen Music Festival, which is celebrating its 75th season with a busy summer of concerts. Highlights include Renée Fleming singing Strauss (June 30); Daniil Trifonov plays Mozart’s “Jeunehomme” concerto (June 28); Joshua Bell, Steven Isserlis and Jeremy Denk perform Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto (July 14); Midori plays Bartok’s second concert (August 4); and Matthew Aucoin conduct “The Marriage of Figaro” in a new production by Sara Erde (August 12). June 26-Aug. 18 at Aspen Music Festival, Aspen, Colorado. aspenmusicfestival.com

The country’s most spectacular (and surprisingly moderate) open-air opera festival returns to the desert with five new productions (and if you go from August 5 to 9, you can see them all in a row). Louisa Muller’s “La Traviata” is billed as a “memory play” set in Paris in 1939. Stephen Barlow’s Victorian-tinged ‘Don Giovanni’ filters the opera through Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. Karina Canellakis makes her SFO debut with “Der Rosenkavalier” (with Ying Fang as Sophie!). Stephen Lawless directs the revival of SFO’s 2009 production of Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love.” And the heavy world premiere of Gregory Spears and Tracy K. Smith’s “The Righteous” stars Anthony Roth Costanzo, Michael Mayes, Elena Villalón, Jennifer Johnson Cano and Greer Grimsley. June 28-Aug. 24 at the Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe, NM santafeopera.org

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